European Parliament president backs U.N. naming an envoy to help restart Cyprus peace talks
NICOSIA, Cyprus — The president of the European Parliament said Sunday she has conveyed the legislative body’s support for the appointment of a United Nations envoy to evaluate the chances of resuming stalemated talks to reunify ethnically divided Cyprus.
Roberta Metsola said she personally communicated the position of the European Union’s legislature to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York last month. Metsola said she told Guterres that Europe “would never be complete as long as Cyprus remains divided.”
“This is not just a Cyprus question, but it is a European question,” she said after talks with the island nation’s President Nikos Christodoulides.
Metsola also attended a military parade Sunday to mark the 63rd anniversary of Cyprus’ independence from British colonial rule.
Christodoulides told reporters Sunday that consultations continue on the appointment of a U.N. envoy. He has made resuming reunification talks with breakaway Turkish Cypriots a focal point of his Greek Cypriot administration.
The talks have been in a deep freeze since the last attempt at a peace deal ended in the summer of 2017.
Prior to that, numerous rounds of U.N.-facilitated negotiations also had ended in failure. Reunification efforts began in the years immediately following a 1974 Turkish invasion that was precipitated by a coup aiming at union with Greece.
U.N. peacekeepers maintain a buffer zone between the Turkish Cypriot northern third of the island and the Greek Cypriot south. Turkey, the only nation that recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence, keeps more than 35,000 troops in northern Cyprus.
Cyprus joined the EU in 2004, but only the southern part, where the internationally recognized government is seated, enjoys full membership benefits.
The island’s division has been a regular source of tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, particularly over Turkey’s claim to much of Cyprus’ offshore economic zone, where sizeable gas deposits have been discovered.
Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar has said there can be no real peace accord unless statehood for the minority Turkish Cypriots is recognized. His position departs from a long-standing agreement that Cyprus would be reunified as a federation composed of Turkish and Greek-speaking zones.
Tatar said he told Guterres that any U.N. envoy can’t assist negotiations that would be based on the now invalid premise of a federation and that a settlement can only happen through negotiations between two equal states.
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